Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

More of our 1st Annual 50’s Summer Sci-Fi Trailerganza.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the release of what many would call “the worst movie of all-time.” Hey, it’s better than most of Adam Sandler’s films. Here’s the trailer.

It’s a fascinating movie, not just because of how the final product came out but what happened behind the scenes, from Bela Lugosi dying during filming (and being replaced in certain scenes by director Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor, and it’s painfully obvious it’s not Lugosi) to how Wood got the money to make the movie. The special effects and dialogue are, well, amateurish to say the least, but you can also sense that Wood was trying and had a love of the genre.

You may know a lot of this from Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. If you haven’t seen it, take a look. I believe it’s Burton and Johnny Depp’s best movie.

You can buy the DVD here.

Earth vs. the Spider (1958)

Continuing the 1st Annual 50’s Sci-Fi Summer Trailerganza, this flick is also known as The Spider, but that title isn’t half as cool as Earth vs. the Spider. (Note: the Earth really doesn’t go up against the spider, it’s just a small town). They changed the title to something more basic after The Fly became a hit.

This is one of my favorite monster movies. The scenes in the big cave are well-done, and there’s a scene where the spider is awakened by the power of rock ‘n roll.

You can buy the DVD here (make sure you don’t get the 2001 remake). It’s a double feature, teamed with War of the Colossal Beast, another Bert I. Gordon film.

The Blob (1958)

Yes, the theme song really doesn’t fit and Steve McQueen plays a teenager when in real-life he was 27, but this is a great flick. It’s tense, the special effects are done in a way that’s genuinely unsettling, and the whole small town vibe is well-done.

They remade it in 1998, and that movie is well done too, but I prefer the original. At one point Rob Zombie was going to do a remake, but those plans fell apart. There’s also been talk of another remake, this one starring Samuel L. Jackson, but nothing has come of that either.

You can buy it here (the Blu-ray is even cheaper than the DVD).

Them! (1954)

I’d like to say that when I was a kid this movie freaked me out, but it kinda freaks me out as an adult too.

That sound.

TCM is showing Them! tomorrow morning (along with The Blob, The Fly, and 20 Million Miles to Earth), and you can buy the DVD for only $10 (Blu-ray is only a few bucks more).

Lots of great actors have small roles in the film, including Richard Deacon, William Schallert, Dick York, and a 22-year-old Leonard Nimoy.

Sid Ramin: 1919-2019

I want to interrupt my 1st Annual 50’s Sci-Fi Summer Trailerganza to talk about something I mentioned in this week’s Saturday Evening Post column.

Sid Ramin died July 1. He won an Oscar for his work on the music of the film version of West Side Story, but looking at his career I realized that he did so much more. What an interesting career he had. For example, he wrote this song that became a hit for both The Bob Crewe Generation and Andy Williams. It was first used in a Diet Pepsi commercial:

He also wrote many jingles for TV commercials (“Hertz puts you in the driver’s seat”), including this one, which you’ll remember (and will probably stick in your head for the rest of the day):

If that wasn’t enough, he also wrote this theme song:

Isn’t that a great resume? Add to that his work on live television (Milton Berle’s Texaco Theater), Broadway (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Gypsy) and his Emmy (for All My Children!) and it all adds up to a unique musical career in showbiz.

The War of the Worlds (1953)

Turner Classic Movies is having a marathon of 50’s sci-fi tonight, including this film.

It really had an effect on me as a kid, back in the days when you had to actually wait months (or years) for a TV station to run a movie you wanted to see. Every time War of the Worlds came on, usually on one of the local independent stations, I made sure to catch it.

Almost 70 years later the special effects still hold up and many scenes remain intense and scary.

waroftheworlds

Monster on the Campus (1958)

Professors turned into cavemen! Killer dogs! A giant dragonfly! Troy Donahue! This movie has everything.

The girl is Joanna Moore. Some of you may know her as one of Andy’s girlfriends (Peggy, the rich one) on The Andy Griffith Show, and some of you might know her as Tatum O’Neal’s mother (and John McEnroe’s ex-mother-in-law). She had a rather interesting life.

monsteronthecampusposter

You can buy it here (only $14.98 for the DVD or $21.49 for the Blu-ray).